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Energy Committee gives progress report, recommendations

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
July 04, 2012
WOLFEBORO — Nancy Hirshberg, current chairman of the Wolfeboro Energy Conservation Committee, presented a progress report to Wolfeboro selectmen at their June 20 meeting.

It has been two years since the last update, and Hirshberg began her presentation with a review of the history of the town's efforts to reduce its energy costs.

The first step was the March 2007 passage of a warrant article establishing an Energy Committee for the town. Six members were appointed to that committee in August 2007 and the committee decided to focus first on analyzing energy use by town departments to determine where the most energy was used and thus where the greatest opportunities were for energy reduction.

The committee applied for and won a grant to set up a tracking system for town energy use. A Dartmouth student completed the system in 2008. The committee's goal was then to reduce energy use by 10 percent in three years by identifying areas where energy could be saved. Actual reduction in energy used from 2007 to 2010 was 18 percent.

In 2010 the town received funds from the Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant program of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help develop a strategic community energy plan. Integrated Building Energy Associates) IBEA) was hired to work with the town to create the plan. The plan was aimed at identifying energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy opportunities within town operations and establish a priority list of short-, middle- and long-term goals for reduction energy use.

Hirshberg presented the final plan prepared by IBEA, "Roadmap to a Secure Energy Future: Community Energy Plan" to the board along with a report on "Financing Municipal Energy Projects"

The report shows that 49 percent of Wolfeboro's $620,000 expenditures for energy in 2 010 went into buildings, 27 percent into vehicles, 14 percent in process energy and 10 percent into street lights. The town's Water Treatment Plant was the largest energy user and offered many opportunities to save through better insulation, reducing air infiltration and efficiency upgrades to mechanical systems.

In all the report identifies 20 specific projects that could reduce the town's energy use by 30 percent. Some of these recommendation have already been implemented.

Another major recommendation is for the town to consider hiring a facilities manager who would be responsible for maintenance as well as tracking and reducing energy use in buildings.

A third recommendation is to establish guidelines for energy efficiency in the town's Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). Hirshberg said that energy planning should be integrated not only into CIP but also building assessments and other forward planning.

In concluding her presentation Hirshberg identified four "next steps" for the Energy Committee. The first was for her to resign as Chairman. The second was to appoint committee member Steve Day as Chairman. The third was to bring the committee back up to its full strength of six members from its current four. The fourth was to have the committee make use of its information and reports to work with town staff and move forward implementing the remaining energy reduction project identified.

The board thanked Hirshberg for the reports and her years of service. Selectman Chair Linda Murray pointed out that while selectmen appoint members to committees, they do not appoint chairman: that is done by committee members.

Parking ordinance changes

Selectmen held a public hearing on proposed changes to the town's parking ordinance. The changes were proposed by the Wolfeboro Police Department in response to complaints that a certain person, later identified as Attorney Diana G. Bolander, was parking a car with a For Sale sign in a space in front of Bridge's Hallmark on South Main Street all day. Attorney Bolander responded to police action on the complaint by pointing out that while the town does prohibit parking cars with For Sale signs in municipal parking lots it does not address cars in parking spaces on the street.

The main changes proposed were to change "parking lot" to "parking space" and to allow a car with a For Sale sign to be parked for no more than two hours, which is the normal parking limit.

Attorney Tom Bickford complained that the proposed changes are "a pet peeve placed into an ordinance" and to him it wasn't "a good investment of police time." He said he was concerned at "a lot of innocent people will get ticketed for this pet peeve," including out of town visitors. He also said he considered it "a possible infringement on free speech" as well as an example of random enforcement.

Lt. Dean Rondeau responded that there were "numerous complaints" that led to the proposed ordinance changes, answering the charge that the changes were based on someone's pet peeve. Selectman Dave Bowers added that the person involved was not from out of town. Selectman Sarah Silk also pointed out that the ordinance banning For Sale signs itself was not new.

After closing the hearing the board voted 5-0 to adopt the changes.

Sailboat sharing

Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Hipple presented a proposal developed by his department, the New Hampshire Boat Museum and Brewster Academy to allow those who cannot afford a sailboat to sail one using a timeshare system.

A 24-foot keelboat has been donated that is now being made ready for the season. Parks and Recreation will lease the boat and sell 12 timeshares from July 16 to Sept. 30 a total of 77 days with three time slots per day for a total of 231 time slots (22 weekend days with 66 time slots and 55 weekdays with 165 time slots).

Parks and Recreation will sell the timeshares, schedule boat use and certify boaters. Brewster will provide a mooring for the boat.

Resident rates would be $300 per share for the season and non-resident rates would be $450 per share. There will also be a $100 deposit to cover damage or late returns. Shares would be sold on a first-come, first served basis, Hipple explained.

Bowers asked whether residents could get a preference. Hipple said that residents could be given an early window to sign up. It was agreed a few days this year was possible.

Selectmen Chuck Storm asked what would happen if there was no wind. Hipple said the boat does have a motor in that case.

The board approved the proposal 5-0.

Hipple also received approval from the board to replace two eight-foot benches in Cate Park with new ones paid for by an anonymous donor through the department's Adopt a Bench program. Anyone interested in participating can click on a link the Parks and Recreation section of the town Web site. A 3-inch by 12-inch plaque will be installed as a memorial if desired.

Other business

Mary Reed, Carroll County Public Health Coordinator gave the board a presentation on the updated Carroll County Coalition for Public Health plan for handling emergencies in the county. The coalition includes hospitals, visiting nurse agencies, ambulance services and town departments, and Wolfeboro is "a very active participant," according to Reed. The presentation reviewed plans for responding to emergencies and identified three locations set up to dispense large amounts of medications or vaccinations in a short period of time: the two closest are Tuftonboro Central School and Ossipee Town Hall.

The board approved a request from Doug Cady of Moose Mountain Jazz Band to use two parking spaces at one end of the Avery Building to park a 1947 flatbed truck that will be used as a platform for the band before the parade and during its non-musical sections.

Finance Director Peter Chamberlin reviewed expenditures and revenues against budget through May. With few exceptions budgetary control remains good.

Chamberlin informed the board of an opportunity through the Local Government Center to refinance four water loans at lower rates that could save the town $200,000. Selectmen asked him to pursue the refinancing.

The board reviewed options for town furniture to be placed in Depot Square. Selectmen agreed there should be benches rather than tables placed on the "bump out" opposite the Railroad Station and chose the style of furniture but not the color.

Town Manager Dave Owen reported on a meeting at the Local Government Center the previous week of communities affected by delayed payments for the state. Owen said in 2012 Wolfeboro was not paid $160,000 that the state had promised in agreements. A group is preparing a submission to legislators asking that payments be resumed.

The next meeting of the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, July 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

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